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By EUGENE DANIELS and RYAN LIZZA
With help from Eli Okun and Garrett Ross
President Joe Biden boards Air Force One on Tuesday, Aug. 30. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo
PREVIEWING BIDEN’S TRIP — “The midterms may be closely approaching. But JOE BIDEN’s focus, for the next week at least, will be firmly on matters overseas,” Jonathan Lemire writes. On Saturday, Biden heads to the U.K. for QUEEN ELIZABETH II’s funeral on Monday. While there, he’s expected to meet privately a number of allies, including Britain’s new PM, LIZ TRUSS.
Then, it’s back to the U.S., where he’ll address the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday. “Aides have worked for weeks on the speech,” writes Jonathan. “They view it as the latest in a series of high-profile opportunities for Biden to place the battle in Ukraine into his larger view that the next century will be defined by the battle between democracies and autocracies.”
HEADS UP — This week, Biden gave a sit-down interview to SCOTT PELLEY that will air on the Sunday night season premiere of “60 Minutes.” More from CBS
OH, DEARIE — On Thursday, Judge AILEEN CANNON appointed RAYMOND DEARIE, a senior judge in Brooklyn, to serve as special master and independently review the items seized by the FBI in its August search of DONALD TRUMP’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
The good news for Trump: (1) Dearie was one of the two names Trump’s attorneys submitted for appointment; (2) Cannon rejected DOJ’s “demand to permit federal prosecutors to continue their review of records marked classified,” as Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein write; and (3) “Cannon urged him to complete his review by Nov. 30 — more than a month after the Oct. 17 deadline DOJ had asked Cannon to set.”
The bad news for Trump: “In one nod to the Justice Department, Cannon ordered Trump to shoulder the full cost of Dearie’s review, as well as any staff or associates he hires.”
Related: “Meet the Brooklyn judge now at the epicenter of the Mar-a-Lago records case,” by Erin Durkin
ON THE BACKBURNER — After the Supreme Court overturned Roe, many Democrats pushed for legislation codifying the right to same-sex marriage, lest it, too, be taken away by the high court. Over the past two months, those efforts gained momentum thanks to the efforts of a small bipartisan group that saw a path to winning support from the requisite 10 Senate Republicans, raising hopes that a bill would soon hit Biden’s desk.
Those dreams are now on hold through (at least) the midterms, Sen. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-Wis.), the bill’s chief sponsor, told reporters on Thursday. “Earlier in the day, the group of five senators leading talks on the bill recommended to Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER that a vote occur after the election after several Republicans called for a delay,” writes Burgess Everett. “Democrats had planned to hold a vote as soon as Monday.”
A Democratic aide with knowledge of the negotiations told Playbook last night: “The senators really just needed the time to get some folks on board. [I] think if this were to come up next week, Republicans would have blocked a cloture vote, and with the senators’ end goal of actually passing this — not it being a political exercise — they are confident they will be able to pass in the near future.”
NYT’s Annie Karni reports that Sen. THOM TILLIS (R-N.C.), one of the Republicans whipping for the bill, “made the case to his colleagues that it would be politically wise for them to support the measure” at a lunch this week.
It didn’t work — yet. But aides tell POLITICO that the senators organizing on behalf of the bill believe that keeping Republicans from having to take a vote that could anger the conservative base ahead of the elections gives it a better chance of passing.
There’s a real risk to this approach: If Republicans are able to flip the Senate, there could be little appetite to jump on board and support a Democratic priority during a lame-duck session.
Happy Friday. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza.
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TALK OF THIS TOWN — Michael Schaffer writes in his new Capital City column: “Michael Beschloss Has Been Radicalized”
Immigrants gather in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard, on Wednesday, Sept. 14. | Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP
THE MARTHA’S VINEYARD STUNT — It’s a story that has dominated political news over the past 24 hours: Florida Gov. RON DeSANTIS’ decision to fly a group of Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. And more than a day after the confused and desperate passengers disembarked, the story is branching out in many directions.
— Massachusetts: “‘At first they were surprised, just like us.’ Martha’s Vineyard responds to surprise arrival of planeloads of migrants,” by the Boston Globe … “Vineyard Community Rallies Relief Efforts to Assist Stranded Migrants,” by the Vineyard Gazette
“U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts RACHAEL ROLLINS said her office plans to speak to the Justice Department about the transports,” report Lisa Kashinsky, Sue Allan and Gary Fineout. “‘We are looking into that case, and we’ll be speaking with members of the Department of Justice. Massachusetts isn’t the only place where this has happened. … [W]e’re hoping to get some input from the Department of Justice about what our next steps might be, if any at all.’”
— Florida: “DeSantis’ defense of Martha’s Vineyard flights prompts more questions,” by the Tampa Bay Times: “DeSantis’ administration is only allowed to ‘transport unauthorized aliens from this state,’ according to budget language approved by [Florida] state lawmakers this year.”
— Washington: Even as the White House criticized GOP governors shipping migrants to other states as “reckless” and “shameful,” administration officials are butting heads over what to do as immigration issues mount, NBC’s Julia Ainsley reports. The White House has recently convened meetings on the topic, “where DHS officials have presented options, including flying migrants to the country’s northern border with Canada to alleviate overcrowding. … Some DHS officials have openly expressed frustration at those meetings with the White House’s reluctance to take a page from the book of Republican governors and begin transporting migrants to cities within the U.S., according to internal communications obtained by NBC News.”
The politics …
— “DeSantis gave GOP donors a glimpse of plans for migrant flights,” by WaPo’s Josh Dawsey, Michael Scherer and Isaac Arnsdorf: “Florida Gov. RON DeSANTIS told the Republican Party’s top donors last weekend he was considering transporting migrants to places like Martha’s Vineyard — just days before he secretly started the flights to the Massachusetts island.”
DeSantis, in a Friday night speech at the Four Seasons in Orlando: “I do have this money. I want to be helpful. Maybe we will go to Texas and help. Maybe we’ll send [them] to Chicago, Hollywood, Martha’s Vineyard. Who knows?” he said to applause.
— DeSantis isn’t the only governor with 2024 ambitions using the immigration crisis to boost his profile, as NBC’s Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo report. “Just a day earlier in Illinois, Gov. J.B. PRITZKER issued an emergency declaration to grapple with nearly 500 immigrants bused to Chicago by Texas Gov. GREG ABBOTT, with the Democratic governor mobilizing the state’s National Guard after standing before the media to call the Republican governor’s actions ‘disgusting.’ Not to be outdone, California Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM, also a Democrat, entered the fray on Wednesday, calling for the Justice Department to investigate both DeSantis and Abbott for their actions.”
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Photos by Patrick Cavan Brown for POLITICO
THE NEXT GREAT MIGRATION — “The Radically Different Visions of Black Power Vying for Control in Georgia,” by Michael Kruse, Brittany Gibson and Delece Smith-Barrow: “From 2000 to 2020, major cities with significant Black populations have turned decidedly less Black — New York, Detroit, Baltimore and others. In a sense, it is a reversal of the ‘Great Migration’ that turned America’s cities into anchors of Black political power. … Atlanta is different: Although the Black population inside the city limits went down in that 20-year span … the metropolitan area as a whole has been a beneficiary. In that time, the Black population went up by 40 percent.” Related read: “Atlanta Was Ours. And Then It Changed,” by Teresa Wiltz
UNDERSTANDING 2020 — If you really want to understand the 2020 campaign — both “the long-term trends and short-term shocks” that shaped it — UCLA political scientist LYNN VAVRECK has co-authored a new book you’ll want to read: “The Bitter End.”
Ryan sat down with her for this week’s “Playbook Deep Dive” podcast. They discuss: (1) What’s driving both the increasing distance between the parties and the increasing homogeneity within the parties; (2) why so-called “identity-inflected issues” are the great new dimension of political conflict in America; (3) why something as simple as partisan parity in the electorate has enormous consequences for things that seem unrelated; and (4) why though many of these shifts were turbo-charged by Trump, it’s not all his fault. Listen here … Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify
9:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
2:15 p.m.: Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with South African President CYRIL RAMAPHOSA.
Press secretary KARINE JEAN-PIERRE will brief at 1 p.m.
VP KAMALA HARRIS’ FRIDAY:
9:30 a.m.: The VP will host a breakfast with Ramaphosa.
11:25 a.m.: Harris will depart D.C. en route to Chicago.
1:50 p.m.: Harris will meet with students, reproductive health advocates and providers to discuss abortion access.
5:05 p.m.: Harris will participate in a political event with Governor J.B. PRITZKER.
6:15 p.m.: Harris will depart Chicago to return to D.C.
THE SENATE is in. THE HOUSE is out.
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PHOTO OF THE DAY
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in-person on Thursday, Sept. 15, in Uzbekistan for the first time since the outset of Russia’s war in Ukraine. | Alexandr Demyanchuk, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
WILL THE REAL CHUCK GRASSLEY PLEASE STAND UP? — “A tale of two Grassleys: Partisan investigator and bipartisan dealmaker,” by Marianne LeVine: “Grassley says he’s approaching every issue as he sees fit. Republicans say he’s acted like this for decades. His Democratic opponent accuses him of changing before the election.”
TO FIGHT, OR NOT TO FIGHT? — Progressive lawmakers are trying to figure out what to do with Sen. JOE MANCHIN’s (D-W.Va.) energy deal that has hitched a ride on the stopgap government spending bill. On the one hand, the liberal bloc could hold the legislation hostage when it arrives in the House. But when that option came up at a meeting this week, a number of Dems “spoke up against any further action — warning it could be seen as dramatically escalating the situation when the party’s under pressure to stay unified before the midterms,” Sarah Ferris, Josh Siegel and Nicholas Wu report.
CRACKING THE WHIP — As House Republicans begin to think about what life in the majority would be like should they retake the chamber in November, the leading contenders to become whip are starting to push their cases publicly. But Olivia Beavers writes that the strategies to garner support among the trio of contenders — Reps. TOM EMMER (R-Minn.), JIM BANKS (R-Ind.) and DREW FERGUSON (R-Ga.) — “are starting to diverge as they seep into view, from one-on-one meetings to group sessions. And some House Republicans are already starting to go public with who they’re backing for a post they don’t yet control.”
PELOSI ON THE MOVE — Speaker NANCY PELOSI will travel to Armenia this weekend, “even as a Russia-brokered ceasefire failed to contain deadly fighting with Azerbaijan,” Alex Ward scoops for National Security Daily.
THE WHITE HOUSE
HAPPENING TODAY — Biden is planning to meet separately with the families of BRITTNEY GRINER and PAUL WHELAN at the White House. More from AP
THE MAN BEHIND THE POLICY — Meet DEMETRE DASKALAKIS, Biden’s newly installed monkeypox deputy response coordinator, who is trying to manage a public health crisis while fending off attacks from the right: “In a city where bureaucrats wear pretty much the same haircuts and outfits, he sticks out. He’s just under six foot tall, bald with black glasses. He happily accepts comparisons to ‘a hot, young STANLEY TUCCI.’ But increasingly, right wing critics have painted him as a caricature,” Eugene writes. “Sifting through Daskalakis’ Instagram feed, they’ve plucked out thirst trap shirtless posts showing off his tattoos — accusing him of being a Satanist.”
Daskalakis shrugs off the critics: “I can’t give a fuck, because otherwise I would be rocking back and forth and [someone] would be stroking my non-existent hair.”
Biden speaks about a tentative railway labor agreement in the Rose Garden on Thursday, Sept. 15. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
HOW IT HAPPENED — Our colleagues Ben White and Eleanor Mueller have the download on how the deal to avoid a railroad strike was brokered, featuring this zinger quote: “It’s like, Holy Christ: The magnitude of what would have happened,” Labor Secretary MARTYWALSH, running on an hour-and-a-half of sleep, said in an interview. “We’ll never fully understand, thank God.”
— Related reads: “Biden’s 11th-hour moves to avert a strike — and a political calamity,” by WaPo’s Jeff Stein, Tyler Pager and Lauren Kaori Gurley … “Biden’s Prodding, Baked Ziti: All-Nighter Is Path to a Rail Deal,” by Bloomberg’s Jordan Fabian, Josh Wingrove and Nancy Cook … “Workers Say Railroads’ Efficiency Push Became Too Much,” by NYT’s Noam Scheiber and Niraj Chokshi … “Biden, Dems see both political, economic wins in rail deal,” by AP’s Josh Boak and Zeke Miller
THE LOAN LURCH — “GOP Lawmakers Want to Know Who on Biden’s Staff Would Get Student Loan Relief,” by Bloomberg’s Billy House
NEW PROFILE — “Josh Shapiro Puts His Faith at the Center of Campaign Against Mastriano,” by Holly Otterbein
NEWSOM CROSSES THE (CALI) LINE — “Calif. governor rents billboards in red states to tout abortion access,” by WaPo’s Dave Weigel
2024 WATCH — “DeSantis draft effort pushes ahead after campaign finance watchdog deadlocks,” by Zach Montellaro
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New research examines how insured Americans navigate unclear and unaffordable insurance coverage.
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
WHAT WILLIS IS TALKING ABOUT — Fulton County DA FANI WILLIS told WaPo in an interview on Thursday that her team investigating Trump’s effort to influence the 2020 Georgia election results “has heard credible allegations that serious crimes have been committed and that she believes some individuals may see jail time,” Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger write in Atlanta.
What Willis said: “The allegations are very serious. If indicted and convicted, people are facing prison sentences.” But she “would not discuss any of the targets by name and has not said if she’s willing to charge the former president. Trump could be called to appear as a witness before the special grand jury that was convened this spring as part of the investigation, Willis said Tuesday.
THE VIEW FROM THE COMMITTEE — “Gotta keep ’em separated: Why the Jan. 6 panel is keeping distance from DOJ’s Trump probes,” by Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu
HEADS UP — Trump’s Save America PAC shelled out $3 million to his attorney CHRIS KISE to cover his legal work in representing the former president in the Mar-a-Lago case and the Justice Department’s inquiry into Trump’s actions surrounding Jan. 6, Betsy Woodruff Swan scooped.
SUSSING OUT THE SUBPOENAS —WaPo’s Devlin Barrett, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind Helderman have some more deets on the slate of subpoenas that were issued by the Justice Department last week: “The subpoenas … are far-reaching, covering 18 separate categories of information, including any communications the recipients had with scores of people in six states where supporters of then-President Donald Trump sought to promote ‘alternate’ electors to replace electors in those states won by Biden.”
TV TONIGHT — PBS’ “Washington Week”: Marianna Sotomayor, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Susan Page and Josh Gerstein.
SUNDAY SO FAR …
FOX “Fox News Sunday”: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C). Panel: Josh Holmes, Francesca Chambers, Gillian Turner and Juan Williams.
CBS “Face the Nation”: Major Garrett and David Becker … Robert Pape … Andriy Kostin.
ABC “This Week”: Panel: Heidi Heitkamp, Marc Short, Marianna Sotomayor and Alex Burns.
NBC “Meet the Press”: Panel: Peter Baker, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Al Cardenas and Stephanie Cutter.
CNN “Inside Politics”: Panel: Kasie Hunt, Amy Walter, Hans Nichols and Seung Min Kim.
MSNBC “The Sunday Show”: Massachusetts state Rep. Dylan Fernandes … Sheryl Lee Ralph … Pennsylvania state Sen. Vincent Hughes … Karen Hobert Flynn … Cecile Richards … Rachel Bitecofer.
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Marjorie Taylor Greene appeared to kick a Voters of Tomorrow activist in a video Greene posted on her own account.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had some sharp words for Clay Higgins at a hearing.
Colton Underwood (yes, of “Bachelor” fame) is turning to K Street.
This WSJ headline says it best: “Janet Yellen Likes Rocks. Foreign Diplomats Keep Giving Her Stamps.”
IN MEMORIAM — “Earl J. Silbert, Lead Prosecutor of Watergate Break-In, Dies at 86,” by NYT’s Richard Sandomir: “The case, in Mr. Silbert’s view, was limited to the seven defendants. … But Leslie Silbert, who collaborated with her father on the book, ‘Watergate: The Missing Story,’ to be published this winter, said in a phone interview that he had been focused on the job at hand, prosecuting a burglary, and that he felt that once he had those convictions, he would have leverage over higher-level actors.”
— “George B. Irish, vice president and Eastern director of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation of California and the Hearst Foundation, Inc. of New York, died of a heart attack Tuesday at his home in New Jersey. He was 78,” the company announced in a release on Thursday. “In 1998, as Hearst senior vice president and president of Hearst Newspapers, Irish led the newspaper group as it expanded its investments in print and online operations, along with its journalistic enterprise in the digital era.”
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Vice is launching a new “Breaking the Vote” series, hosted by Todd Zwilich, beginning today and running up to the election. The eight-part series will cover some of the most pressing issues of this political moment: voting rights, democracy, the attacks on both, Jan. 6 and Trumpism. It’s an outgrowth of Zwilich’s newsletter of the same name. Watch the first full episode here
MEDIA MOVE — Jennifer Griffin is moving up to be chief national security correspondent at Fox News, having signed a new multi-year deal. She previously was national security correspondent. More from The Hollywood Reporter
WHITE HOUSE ARRIVAL LOUNGE — Theresa Bradley is now a speechwriter for the White House. She most recently was a freelance writer and is a Biden campaign alum.
TRANSITIONS —Sarah Matthews is now a senior adviser with Merrimack Potomac + Charles. She previously was comms director for the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Republicans and is a Trump White House alum. … Bruce Miller is joining BSA | The Software Alliance as senior director of legislative strategy. He most recently was director of federal legislative affairs at Kyndryl, and is a Hill veteran. … Anna Chu has been hired as executive director of We The Action. She most recently was VP for strategy and policy at the National Women’s Law Center. …
… Rahkendra Ice and Lucy Coady are joining Evergreen Strategy Group as directors. Ice previously was deputy director of communications and digital media at Girl Up. Coady previously was director of the No Kid Hungry Campaign at Share Our Strength. … Julie Andreeff Jensen and David Sutphen are launching Jasper Advisors, a new strategic advisory firm. Jensen previously was senior VP for the Washington Commanders. Sutphen previously was chief strategy and engagement officer at 2U.
WEDDING — Caitlin Gallagher, a regional comms manager at Stand Together and a John Cornyn and NRSC alum, and Drew Blundell, a product marketing manager for cloud at Microsoft, recently got married in Gallagher’s hometown of Littleton, Colo. The two met on Hinge in D.C. in 2017. Pic … Another pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) … Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards … Julián Castro … Hogan Gidley … Jason Zengerle … RENEWPR’s Ben Finzel … Jill Lesser of Finsbury Glover Hering … Paul Orzulak of West Wing Writers … Cleta Mitchell … Lauren Dillon of Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) office … POLITICO’s Andrea Arora and Xinran Xu … Derek Mitchell of the National Democratic Institute … Sara Goo of Axios … Lori Brutten … NBC’s Richard Engel … NAM’s Jordan Stoick … Laurie Knight of the National Beer Wholesalers Association … CNN’s Angelica Grimaldi and Hannah Sarisohn … Richard Perle … Ian Walton … Chuck Westover … Elliot Vice … Nathan Hurst … former Reps. Ralph Abraham (R-La.) and David Rivera (R-Fla.) … … Christine Ciccone of C. Ciccone & Co. … Meta’s Jackie Rooney and Josh Ginsberg
Send Playbookers tips to [email protected] or text us at 202-556-3307. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike DeBonis, deputy editor Zack Stanton and producers Setota Hailemariam and Bethany Irvine.
Corrections: Thursday’s Playbook misstated the workplaces of Adam Aigner-Treworgy and Ryan Nobles.
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According to new data, insured Americans are struggling to navigate their health care coverage, particularly the insurer- and PBM-imposed barriers and cost sharing practices that stand between them and their medicines:
· 39% of insured Americans say they don’t understand what’s covered by their insurance.
· Even with insurance, 15% report they would be unable to afford health care if they were to become seriously ill because of high out-of-pocket costs.
Americans want policy reforms that improve their insurance by providing more predictability and transparency in what is covered and lowering what they pay out of pocket. Read more in PhRMA’s latest Patient Experience Survey.
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